Academic journal article Studia Psychologica

Perceptions of Contextual Achievement Goals: Contribution to High-School Students' Achievement Goal Orientation, Strategy Use and Academic Achievement

Academic journal article Studia Psychologica

Perceptions of Contextual Achievement Goals: Contribution to High-School Students' Achievement Goal Orientation, Strategy Use and Academic Achievement

Article excerpt

Abstract: The current study had two aims: 1) to explore the effects of contextual goals, defined as perceived parents' and teachers' goals, and classroom goal structures, on highschool students' personal achievement goal orientations and 2) to examine the effects of personal and perceived contextual goals on reading and learning strategies, and self-handicapping behavior, as well as their effect on academic achievement. Highschool students (n = 403) completed questionnaires assessing goal orientations and strategies. Their GPA at the end of the school year was also recorded. The results of the study showed that perceived contextual goals were significant predictors of students' corresponding personal goal orientations, although the results were not clearcut. Perceived contextual performance goals also predicted students' work-avoidance goal orientation and self-handicapping behavior that was related to lower academic achievement. On the other hand, contextual mastery goals, especially parents' mastery goals, had significant effects on employment of deep learning and reading strategies.

Key wo rds: achievement goa ls, learning strategies, self-handicapping, parents, teachers

Within the achievement goal theory frame- work two goal orientations reflecting con- trasting motivational processes have been repeatedly recognized (Elliot, Dweck, 1988; Maehr, Midgley, 1991). A mastery (learning, task-involved, task-focused) goal orientation reflects a focus on mastering the task, devel- oping new skills, and improving competence and comprehension. Performance (ego-in- volved, ability-focused) goal orientation, on the other hand, has often been separated into performance-approach, which reflects a fo- cus on demonstrating competence and gain- ing favorable judgments, and performance- avoidance, which reflects a focus on avoid- ing the demonstration of lack of competence and unfavorable judgments (Elliot, Church, 1997; Middleton, Midgley, 1997). Some au- thors (Meece, Blumenfeld, Hoyle, 1988; Nicholls, Patashnick, Nolen, 1985) recog- nized an additional avoidance goal orienta- tion, work-avoidance orientation, which is aimed at effort reduction and stems mainly from students' perceptions that studying is a useless or uninteresting activity.

Mastery orientation has been associated with adaptive behavior, such as the self- regulation of learning and the use of deep processin g st ra t egi es (Di seth , 2011; Somuncuoglu, Yildirim, 1999). Performance- avoidance and work-avoidance orientations have consistently been associated with mal- adaptive patterns of behavior, like self-handi- capping behaviors (Urdan, 2004; Urdan, Midgley, 2001). The evidence for the conse- quences of performance-approach goals has not been as consistent. In their review, Wigfield and Cambria (2010) pointed out that inconsistency in findings might be partly due to methodological confounding of perfor- mance approach and avoidance goals. They also concluded that the approach aspect of the performance goals has been positively related to a number of favorable variables. Nevertheless, it has been also frequently re- lated to surface processing learning strate- gies (Niemivirta, 1996; Simons, Dewitte, Lens, 2004).

Personal achievement goals adopted by students reflect not only their intrinsic be- liefs and values but also goal orientations pursued by their near socio-cultural envi- ronment that could be either mastery-ori- ented, emphasizing effort, learning and un- derstanding or performance-oriented, em- phasizing competition for grades and so- cial comparisons. Despite the fact that most of the messages in the classroom stem from teacher practices, thus reflecting the goals emphasized by the teacher(s) (teacher goals), classroom goal structures usually reflect broader conceptualization by referring to perceptions of the purposes for engaging in academic work that are emphasized in the classroom by studen ts (Midgley et al., 2000). In most of the studies, classroom goal structures are viewed as precursors of stu- dents' personal goal orientations, which have a more proximal influence on students' motivation, strategy use, and achievement (Murayama, Elliot, 2009; Urdan, 2004). …

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